Fast-food workers across Florida say they fear getting sick at their jobs and many are not being given protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
During what they called a “digital strike line” Wednesday, worker after worker spoke about conditions where they were told to bring their own masks to work and also not paid for time they needed to take off sick.
Sammy works at a Starbucks in Orlando.
“Starbucks has started out by deciding to send us a video on how to make a mask with a coffee filter. Because when they decided to require us to wear a mask they didn’t order them soon enough and they couldn’t supply them. When we finally were provided with face masks made of cloth by the corporate office, they were so thin that I could breathe Sweet’N Low sugar through them. If I can do that, what else can get through the mask? How am I supposed to protect myself and my customers and my co-workers? So truthfully I feel like the company is not taking our health and safety seriously by providing us masks that don’t really protect against anything.
“Starbucks is not enforcing social distancing among customers. Just the other day customers were allowed to eat in close proximity to the area where mobile orders are being served. In our store we serve over 50 customers an hour in the drive-thru. Which makes me, someone who often works at the drive-through window, a lot more stressed about getting sick.
“Starbucks has provided $3 an hour of hazard pay during the pandemic but that’s eventually going to be taken away once the stores reopen.
“The lockdown may be ending but the pandemic isn’t and our lives are still at risk. This has been a short-term solution for a long-term problem that workers have faced far before this pandemic. We’ve been denied fair pay, we’ve been denied access to affordable health care and we’ve been denied safe working conditions. And all these crises start from the fact that essential workers like me have been denied our union rights so we have no voice on the job and that’s why I’m on strike today.”
Deathea Edie works three different jobs at fast-food restaurants.
Listen to her story:
The workers were joined by some allies, including Orlando-area member of Congress Darren Soto.
“Your House Democratic majority stands in solidarity and we will continue to fight to get hazard pay for all essential workers, to continue to expand access to sick pay and paid family leave for all workers and increased access to health care. And let’s continue to fight for $15 to get wages for everybody at a minimum of $15 an hour or more. We stand in solidarity, brothers and sisters, and look forward to hearing your stories.”
According to the state’s Department of Health website, Florida now has more than 38,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. More and more people who have tested positive for coronavirus are being hospitalized in Florida – the number is now more than 6,500. Fewer than half a million Floridians have been tested – that’s only about 2 percent of the state. Florida has had 1,500 COVID-19 fatalities.
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